Sanyou Cavern

The Sanyou Cavern is found on the north side of the Xiling Mountain, which is back at the mouth of the Xiling Gorge, and faces the Xialao Stream. The Cavern is a major historical and cultural site, and is under provincial protection in Hubei Province.

The cavern is a Karst-type cave shaped in the form of an irregular rectangle. The cave has a depth of 30 meters (98 feet) and a width of about 20 meters (66 feet). Three stalactite pillars divide the cave into two parts. The front of the cave is bright and spacious, while in the back it is gloomy and narrow. Rocks in the cave are full of limestone drapes taking on various shapes.

The Sanyou Cavern was unknown to public until the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when three eminent writers came across this wonderland. The three celebrities were Bai Juyi, Bai Xingjian (Bai Juyi's brother) and Yuan Zhen. They composed poems which were inscribed on the walls to record the beautiful sceneries. Bai Juyi wrote 'Preface to Sanyou Cavern', which literally means 'three people traveled in the cavern'; so we have the name Sanyou Cavern.

During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), many celebrities visited the cavern, and carved poems and texts on the walls and cliffs inside and outside of the cavern. From then on the cavern became a place where literary people came to enjoy the writing through the ages. There are more than 60 inscriptions in and around the cave that are treasured for their historical value, or for calligraphy appreciation. The grotesque natural scene, together with the calligraphy is sure to impress you.

Military Books and Precious Sword Gorge

This four-kilometer gorge is situated between Xin Tan (New Rapid) and Fragrant Stream. On top of the northern cliff, stratified layers of rock slabs resemble a pile of books, called "military books", and a sword-shaped rock right beside, which thrusts in the river, resemble a sword, hence the name Military Books and Precious Sword (Bingshu Baojian Xia) .

One legend has it that Zhuge Liang, military adviser to the King of Shu in Three Kingdoms Period, became seriously ill while passing this way. He placed his valuable military treatises up here to keep them safe for later generations. Another legend said that it was when he retired from official life and went into seclusion that he hid his military writings and sword here.

According to the records, once an official asked his entourages to find out that the "Military Books" were suspended coffins on the cliff when his boat passing by. There came relics like bronze swords and pottery, which later have proved to be the heritages of Ba people in ancient times. And the "Precious Sword" is falling slabs of Just opposite the gorge a large cleft rock stands on the south side. Fine sand, blown by river winds, piles up on this rock and then slowly sifts through a hole below, so the gorge has another name called Rice Granary Gorge (Micang Xia).

More Xiling Gorge Attractions: 

Nanjin Pass, Shadow Play Gorge & Kongling Gorge 
Yellow Ox Gorge & Huangling Temple 
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